The coach left at 8.45am so there was no late breakfast on Saturday morning. It was great to have a day away immediately after returning from das Boot, and this one was arranged months ago, a charabanc outing to Harwich and Dedham with the local archaeological society.
Celia and I were early, partly because my efficient kidneys meant a loo stop before departure was compulsory. Though only for me; Celia is a camel. We diverted to Waterloo station. Why didn’t we think of buying our copies of The Guardian? Probably because apart from the loo, my thoughts were focused on snacks. This meant that although the day was a good way of escaping Brexit, it also turned into anxiety about finding a newspaper. Over the last ten days my need to know the news has reached maniacal heights. I did pick up a tweet which made me laugh aloud. pic.twitter.com/622b3OUTAT
As we among the last on the coach we didn’t get to sit together, but we both found congenial travel companions who added to the day’s enjoyment. I was, unsurprisingly, eager to use the facilities when we arrived at Harwich where coffee tea and cake awaited us at the second oldest building in the town. It turned to be facility. Singular in more ways than one, in that it was a little hut outside at the back of the building.
The only times I have been to Harwich before have been to take the ferry to Hook of Holland, and I have never seen anything of the town. I knew it was a town that has suffered from the loss of the Royal Navy presence and reduced port activity, so I was expecting a rather down at heel feel. But it felt contented, arty crafty, quirky, and quite comfortable with itself.
I’m guessing much of the civic pride evident in the town comes from the Harwich Society which seems to be the town’s heart and soul, harnessing energy and enthusiasm, practical skills and dedication. Certainly if I were ever to relocate to this patch of Essex joining the society would be one of the first things I’d do. The big mystery was the absence of shops. We’d seen an out of town shopping area as we arrived, but the lack of shops seemed bizarre. As it turned out, the shops were close to where we had our coffee, we just didn’t go there. Fortunately we went onto dedham where the Co-op had a pile of Guardians for sale. Phew.
And it is a lovely town. The historic buildings have been retained or restored. There are touches of humour; the sea; beautiful houses and an arts festival. At the Redoubt Celia and made enquiries and found there’s a long distance walking route, the Essex Way, which starts at Epping. I think it’s eighty-six miles long, so it’d take us more than a day, but we are already thinking about doing the leg that leads to Harwich. Watch this space.